Hello Chiefs fans! Here is another one of my offensive line themed posts, and I hope some of you will take the time to read it.
As many of you may be aware, I am a strong believer in the philosophy of having a very, very dominant offensive line and then having whoever you can fill in the skill positions. I think an offense, if the line is good enough can be very, very efficient as long as you have some skill players who know how to play decent. In my opinion, an offense can only go as far as the line can carry it (unless you're Peyton Manning, then you're all alone).
This post is specifically going to center around the size of NFL lines in relation to the effectiveness of their offense and to discuss how Kansas City's lightest line in the league could be both an advantage and a detriment.
First off, I'll go down the list of the best offenses in the league, and the average weight of one of their offensive linemen.
1. Green Bay Packers, 1st in Points scored, 3rd in passing, 27th in rushing, 3rd in total yards, averages 319 pounds.
2. New Orleans Saints, 2nd in points scored, 1st in passing, 6th in rushing, 1st in total yards, averages 328 pounds.
3. New England Patriots, 3rd in points scored, 2nd in passing, 20th in rushing, 2nd in total yards, averages 313 pounds
4. Detroit Lions, 4th in points scored, 4th in passing, 29th in rushing, 5th in total yards, averages 311 pounds.
5. Carolina Panthers, 5th in points scored, 13th in passing, 3rd in rushing, 7th in total yards, averages 317 pounds.
6. San Diego Chargers, 6th in points scored, 6th in passing, 16th in rushing, 6th in total yards, averages 320 pounds.
7. Atlanta Falcons, 7th in points scored, 8th in passing, 17th in rushing, 10th in total yards, averages 310 pounds.
8. Philadelphia Eagles, 8th in points scored, 9th in passing, 5th in rushing, 4th in total yards, averages 313 pounds.
9. New York Giants, 9th in scoring, 5th in passing, 32nd in rushing, 8th in total yards, averages 318 pounds.
10. Houston Texans, 10th in scoring, 18th in passing, 2nd in rushing, 13th in total yards, averages 308 pounds.
11. San Francisco 49ers, 11th in scoring, 29th in passing, 8th in rushing, 26th in total yards, averages 321 pounds.
12. Baltimore Ravens, 12th in scoring, 19th in passing, 10th in rushing, 15th in total yards, averages 317 pounds.
13. New York Jets, 13th in scoring, 21st in passing, 22th in rushing, 25th in total yards, averages 304 pounds.
14. Buffalo Bills, 14th in scoring, 15th in passing, 13th in rushing, 14th in total yards, averages 311 pounds.
15. Dallas Cowboys, 15th in scoring, 7th in passing, 18th in rushing, 11th in total yards, 316 pounds.
16. Oakland Raiders, 16th in scoring, 11th in passing, 7th in rushing, 9th in total yards, averages 312 pounds.
17. Chicago Bears, 17th in scoring, 26th in passing, 9th in rushing, 24th in total yards, averages 317 pounds.
18. Cincinnati Bengals, 18th in scoring, 20th in passing, 19th in rushing, 20th in total yards, averages 334 pounds.
19. Minnesota Vikings, 19th in scoring, 28th in passing, 4th in rushing, 18th in total yards, averages 318 pounds.
20. Miami Dolphins, 20th in scoring, 23rd in passing, 11th in rushing, 22nd in total yards, averages 321 pounds.
21. Tennessee Titans, 21st in scoring, 12th in passing, 31st in rushing, 17th in total yards, averages 306 pounds.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers, 22nd in scoring, 10th in passing, 14th in rushing, 12th in total yards, averages 332 pounds.
23. Seattle Seahawks, 23rd in scoring, 22nd in passing, 21st in rushing, 28th in total yards, 315 pounds.
24. Arizona Cardinals, 24th in scoring, 17th in passing, 24th in rushing, 19th in total yards, averages 323 pounds.
25. Denver Broncos, 25th in scoring, 31st in passing, 1st in rushing, 23rd in total yards, averages 316 yards.
26. Washington Redskins, 26th in scoring, 14th in passing, 25th in rushing, 16th in total yards, averages 306 pounds.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 27th in scoring, 16th in passing, 30th in rushing, 21st in total yards, averages 308 pounds.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars, 28th in scoring, 32nd in passing, 12th in rushing, 32nd in total yards, averages 304 pounds.
29. Indianapolis Colts, 29th in scoring, 27th in passing, 26th in rushing, 30th in total yards, averages 307 pounds.
30. Cleveland Browns, 30th in scoring, 24th in passing, 28th in rushing, 29th in total yards, averages 315 pounds.
31. Kansas City Chiefs, 31st in scoring, 25th in passing, 15th in rushing, 27th in total yards, averages 303 pounds.
32. St. Louis Rams, 32nd in scoring, 30th in passing, 23rd in rushing, 31st in total yards, averages 306 pounds.
What exactly does this tell us? Obviously weight isn't the only factor in the success of an offensive lineman, and many of the averages are a little skewed. Really, one HUGE guy can throw off the average a lot. In 2003, the two biggest lines in the league were Buffalo and Chicago. All of the linemen on the line weren't exceptionally large, but it just so happened that both teams had Mike Williams and Aaron Gibson, the two biggest offensive linemen who have played pro football (both just a shade over 400 pounds). Just them alone skyrocketed their average weights to the top.
Sorry, strayed off there. But what do we see as a recurring trend? A lot of the top offenses have a line that's somewhere between 313-320 pounds. Obviously we have the Saints line that has kept Drew Brees almost completely clean, that's a averaging a hulking 328 pounds. But one of the other best lines in the league, that have paved the way for a brutal and punishing Houston running game averages in at a mere 308 pounds. This leaves much to thought over whether a lines average weight truly has an impact, but I sure as hell know it has an impact in KC.
What was the biggest problem with Kansas City's line? For me, it's easy. We get no push off the ball, for the most part. They're decent in pass-protection, good on the move, but if we ever want to run up the middle against an even mediocre run defense we get stuffed for 2 yards. Some people don't like getting a bit bigger, a bit stronger because that's "not the way Kansas City runs the ball" or because "our backs are built for a small, quick line" or some bullshit like that. Did Jamaal not average 5.9 YPC, rush for 1,120 yards and register one of the best rushing performances in NFL history behind a 2009 Chiefs offensive line that averaged 318 pounds, which was 6th in the entire league? At least then we could get into the FUCKING ENDZONE 2 YARDS OUT BY RUNNING IT IN!
People underestimate Jamaal, and his strength. Same deal with McCluster. They may be little, quick, fast backs but I've seen underrated toughness in both of them. If they've got some momentum built up and a defensive back is coming up to tackle them, I've seen both guys just put the shoulder down and make a statement. We got that from big ol' Jackie Battle this season but his greatest attributes were hardly utilized to their full extent behind this puny crew we call an offensive line. Think of this predicament as a small hole and a few marbles. A little marble can fit through the hole fine, but try to add a larger marble and no dice. The only way to get that larger marble to fit is to make the hole larger. You've probably gotten by now that the marble is a back and the hole is an offensive line. So, what can we do to make this hole larger without making this line so great, the speed and athleticism of our boys up front.
Ok, right now we are at 303 pounds. My hope is to get to that magical 310-320 pounds (maybe even more! Not asking for anything like Cincy's gang of brutes but who knows the personnel we'll end up getting) range without losing our speed and 2nd level hitting ability. Say Casey Wiegmann retires and Rodney Hudson takes his place. Rod's got a solid 14 pounds on Wieg. Now we average in at around 307. But uh-oh! It basically goes without saying we need to ditch B-Rich, who is our biggest guy by far at what Pro Football Reference lists at 330 pounds. That takes us down, by a LOT. But maybe we could grab some other 320-340 pounds guys to toss in that would be a huge addition over B-Rich in all facets of his game (Kelechi Osemele, Cordy Glenn, Andrew Datko, Anthony Collins, Justin Anderson, Mike Adams, Antoine McClain, Zebrie Sanders, Johnny Troutmann, or maybe even Jared Gaither) and boom! We're back in business. Then keep Lilja as some quality interior depth, and draft 316 pound David DeCastro as some extra muscle (or sign Ben Grubbs from Baltimore). Now, KABLAM! We're at 311 pounds and we're in business.
Honestly, it's nearly identical to Houston's line, and offense in general (an offense that has done VERY well for themselves). We have some beefy, power-blocking tackles to blow some DE's off the ball and make some big holes. A tandem of agile (Keep in mind, despite DeCastro's relatively weak 40 time his shuttle and 3 cones times were the best at the Combine from an O-lineman), strong, and physical guard that can manhandle some quality DT's and pull around and crush some linebackers. Then a big, tough, aggressive center to spearhead it all. A few great receiving threats at TE and WR, and a 260 pound bulldozer leading the way for a quick, fast and speedy runner. All that's missing is an Arian Foster. The guy who makes this zone-blocking scheme so unique. He's a powerback that is mainly known for a brutal stiff-arm and a fearsome shoulder, but has the moves and speed to move around and follow some blocks, not give anything away when he goes in ahead of Ben Tate.
So who could be our Arian Foster? I've narrowed it down to 2 backs that could fill that role.
Long story short, he's a cannonball. He's a short guy, barely 5'9. But he weighs around 250 pounds, so his center of gravity is top notch and makes him a nightmare for defenders to try and tackle. Tall guys like linebackers, DE's or DT's just slip off because they have a bad angle. Anyone short enough is too small and just gets trucked over like bowling pins. As many of us Chiefs fans know, he's one of the most annoying little buggers for divisional rivals. You think you've got them pinned down, but out of nowhere you he runs over a few defenders and bangs his way for a first down. It's been a while since we've had that. But another attribute that's pretty surprising about him is that he's got a very surprising burst through the hole and has great breakaway speed and very quick feet for a man of his stature.
There is nothing wrong with him, other than coming from a relatively weak conference. He's 230 pounds of basically pure muscle. He runs a 4.4, ran the shuttle and cone tests faster than a lot of RB's at the Combine, too. His stats are pretty sweet, too. Over 1,500 yards rushing in 2011 behind a mediocre line. He's got thighs like Earl Campbell, arms like Christian Okoye, and basically no neck. He's tried to compare himself to the Incredible Hulk, who was his childhood idol. His running style honestly reminds me of Marshawn Lynch. Pad level parallel to the ground, legs pumping, rumbling forward just looking for an unfortunate defender to explode into and really lay the lumber. Trent Richardson, West Coast style. He's a locker room leader, too. Another item of interest is that he's been through a lot. His mom ditched him as a child, his sister was paralyzed, his brother died and he essentially had to become the man of the house because his father was always at work. Not to mention, that as of now he's listed as a 4th-5th round prospect despite his glorious combine, so there is basically no risk involved in taking him.
If still not convinced, then this should follow through with the job.
"My answer is -- and other people tell me this -- I do a good job doing everything,'' Turbin said. "Running the ball, pass blocking, run blocking, running routes. I can run any play. I don't want to be a guy who can just run inside zone and power.''
In short, he's perfect.